Palakkad: In a major revelation in the case of Keralites' suspected Islamic State links, the father of two missing brothers has said that his sons were influenced by Islamic preacher Zakir Naik.
Vincent, father of Eesa and Yahiya, who along with their wives allegedly fled the country to join terror outfit ISIS, said on Sunday that his sons had relations with Zakir Naik.
He said his sons, who were Christians, had also tried to influence their brother-in-law and even took him to Naik in Mumbai to make him embrace Islam. However, he was not willing for conversion.
"They asked my son-in-law to look at Zakir Naik's eyes three times during his prayers. My sons said that if one does so, the person would forget everything and want to become a Muslim. However, my son-in-law refused to do so," Vincent told Manorama News.
Yahiya's father said his sons and their wives used to travel often. They used to work in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru.
Before going missing, his sons had told the family that they were going for some business purpose and asked them to tell the same to others if anyone asks. He said his sons had their long beards trimmed before leaving the house.
It is suspected that the brothers have been in touch with Zakir Naik for a long time, from the days of their college education. Yahiya, the younger son who studied in Bengaluru, had converted to Islam first and Eesa followed suit.
Eesa, his wife Fathima alias Nimisha, Yahiya and his wife Mariyam alias Merin were among 17 people missing from Palakkad and Kasaragod who are suspected to have joined ISIS.
Fathima, who converted to Islam from Hinduism, hails from Thiruvananthapuram while Mariyam was born to a Christian family in Ernakulam.
The revelations come close on the heels of the Bangladeshi government's decision to ban broadcasting of Peace TV, run by Mubai-based Zakir Naik's Islamic Research Foundation.
After July 1 terror attack at a Spanish restaurant in Dhaka's diplomatic enclave Gulshan, it was reported that two of the seven attackers who killed 22 people, including 18 foreigners, were inspired by the Islamic orator's speeches.